tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC June 24, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PDT
confederate battle flag continue to fly on state capitol grounds? and this hour a horse-drawn caisson will bring the body of senator cle menmentea pinckney to the capitol to lie in repose. we are following a lot of breaking news today. at any moment the new york state police are planning to update their search for the two convicted killers, richard matt and david sweat. the manhunt has picked up intensity in the past day after the convicts' dna was found, both of them, in a hunters' cabin. under pressure from south carolina's governor south carolina's lawmakers have agreed to start debating whether to take down the confederate flag from their capitol grounds. this as they prepare to honor senator clementea pinckney kimd in last week's massacre one of the nine. his body will be carried past
the flag to lie to repose in the state house. alabama's governor took down the confederate flag from that state capitol grounds and terry mcauliffe has called for the state flag to be removed from all license plates. governor welcome. you've taken dramatic action under your authority, the license plate. >> i announced yesterday that i want the confederate flag removed from every license plate in virginia. yesterday it was taken down from the dmv site. you can no longer get those from the state. i've begun the process today to reach out to the folks from the sons of the confederacy to tell me two or three weeks to redesign their plate without the battle flag on it. we will move forward and recall every license plate at no cost and give a virginia resident a new license plate. so 90 to 120 days on the outside there will be not the battle flag on any virginia license plate. >> do we know how many cars?
>> about 2,000 license plates right now. there were some folks in the queue to buy new plates yesterday and they have been informed that they can not purchase those plates. >> and the distribution process, is this going to be a backlog? is there going to be -- >> we'll move very quickly on it. we'll reach out. obviously we have all the information. we will inform them that the license plate that they presently have is no longer a valid license plate in the commonwealth of virginia and they'll have a chance to get the new one without the battle flag on it and/or they can pick another plate and we'll do it at no cost to them and replace that plate. listen, it was an unnecessary distraction. it was hurtful to have the confederate flag on these license plates. i spent all my time trying to build the new virginia economy. i've spent 17 months fighting on women's rights and leading on lgbt issues. open and welcoming to everyone. i don't want things out there, distraction or hurtful to people. we can't. we have to act together to build a new economy.
>> as you speak, we're watching a split screen with the caisson with the body of the state senator, the late reverend clen may -- clementa pinckney going through the streets to the capitol where he will be lying in repose. you've watched politics for a long time you're former democratic party chair, former chairman of the hillary clinton campaign. i want to play something that you may or may not have seen. it was state senator paul thurman, the son of senator strom thurmond who became a republican in 1948 walked out of the convention. on the issue of segregation and later had change of heart. but this was paul thurmond speaking about the very point you're making about the confederacy and what it means and what the flag means at the state capitol yesterday. >> for the life of me i will
never understand how anyone could fight a civil war based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery. our ancestors were literally fighting to continue to keep human beings as slaves and continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. i am not proud of this heritage. >> he's speaking about his own family's heritage there, and saying he's not proud of it. he's not defending it and saying we have to move on he's saying something very dramatically different. what about statues, monuments and other memorabilia around the state, around virginia. >> let's be honest we're in a very unique situation. we were the capital of the confederacy. we just spent an another week back the 150th anniversary of the ending of the civil war. i have said i am sticking just with the license plates because i do think that is a message
that is so hurtful, that flag to folks, but not statues. robert e. lee, jefferson, davis, these are all parts of our heritage. the people that were in that battle the civil war, many of them were in it obviously for their own reasons that they have for that but leave the statues and those things alone. i'm glad that after we acted yesterday, andrea they then went to the other southern governors and began asking the questions, what about the license plate. i think five or maybe even six, alabama just announced they're going to take it down as well off of their license plates. i know the governor of maryland yesterday indicated that north carolina, tennessee. there's just no place for it today. we have to all work together. we have to build, as i say, the new economy. you can't do it with divisive symbols and words. we need to move past it. i'm hoping after that horrible tragedy at the emanuel ame church, i've fought hard i've tried to get comprehensive gun restrictions that make common sense. we ought to have background
checks. andrea i own three guns i'm a hunter, i take my boys hunting. but everybody should go through a background check. there are certain individuals that should not own guns and i join the president in calling, let's do some common sense things to keep our communities safe. >> governor terry mcauliffe it's such a pleasure to see you. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> and we will stay on this. it's great to have you. we're going to go now to a news conference in upstate new york and this is the major charles guess from the state police. >> in addition although no evidence exists that the ecape y -- escapees are in the town of malone our current search area is approximately 75 square miles within franklin county. more than 1,000 federal, state and law enforcement members are involved in the search area and our collaborative effort with our partners will continue until the inmates are captured.
we continue to aggressively pursue leads in this case. we developed more than 2200 leads as of today and more continue to come in. we appreciate the public's assistance during our investigation, and we ask them to continue to call 911 if anything suspicious is noted in their property in their digital recordings, in their trail cameras at any time. we've received reported sightings each day, and we have investigated every one. so far none of the sightings have been substantiated, but we will continue to ensure to the public that every sighting or lead that is reported will be investigated until exhausted. we have dozens of experienced investigators who are tracking each lead and we are benefitting from the experience of our state, local and federal partners. this remains very much a team effort. again, we ask the public to remain alert, take necessary safety precautions and remain vigilant about reporting anything that is out of the ordinary. we want to thank all of our law enforcement partners at a state,
local and federal level for their collaboration. the resources, expertise and experience they provide are invaluable to our investigation. this search has not been without its challenges. i would like to introduce captain john strife from the forest rangers who can detail what our teams have been up against over the past few weeks. captain strife. >> good afternoon. the park is the largest wilderness area east of the mississippi river. searchers have had to work in an environment which presents specific challenges due to remoteness terrain, vegetation and ever-changing weather conditions. this areas contains mountains, hills andra veens that range from gentle to very steep. much of the land is timberlands. the vegetation is a dense combination of trees, saplings and brush. rivers, streams, ponds and large wetlands are also present.
the wetlands are challenging with water, thick bogs and dense vegetation. searchers are methodically moving through an environment where it's not only difficult to navigate but the distance you can see ahead of you is only a few feet or less. the road system in this area is mainly secondary, which slows down motor vehicle movement. there are hundreds of seasonal camps and second homes throughout the area. we continue to check these camps and secure them as we identify them. however, we are also asking camp owners to report any suspicious activity or signs of trespass. searchers are exposed to large amounts of rain and biting insects. it should be pointed out that the remoteness of the area and the conditions i have described are the very reason the clinton county correctional facility was built in dannemora more than 100 years ago. thank you. >> all right. we'll take a few questions at this time. n
[ inaudible question ] >> do you believe one of them is injured? >> there were numerous items recovered from the cabin. although i can't specify what those items were we have no definitive information that someone was injured. a bloody sock could mean someone had a blister. i'm hoping for the best. in ig that would impede their progress and aid the searchers would be a good for us. >> as a follow-up, are you concerned about the amount of time that elapsed between the report of the men being there and the time that the officers actually arrived and were able to confirm that they were there? >> time is always a concern. it generally works against the police in the immediate response but it works typically for law enforcement long term as we begin to coalesce around the search area bring in more partners. what you're seeing here is the face of relentless pursuit. we're going to be relentless until we capture these people. bottom line is we don't want them to have a restful, peaceful night putting their head on any pillow. whether it ends here today in owls head or an undetermined
amount of time going forward, we will resolve this case capture and return to the prison. >> major, do you believe they were in that cabin? and if so, how far away do you conceivably believe they could be from there right now? >> we have every reason to believe that they were at the point last seen where that cabin is. their distance from that cabin could be extensive if their travel was unimpeded. but as you heard captain strife say, it's a very remote difficult terrain to work in. we had units in the area almost immediately and we're doing everything we can to keep them hunkered down and secure until we can capture them. >> in a follow-up to that how many miles a way can someone make it on foot? >> again, that depends on the terrain, geography and environmental conditions. you could easily cover 10 miles a day if you're unimpeded on an atv trail or a high-speed avenue of egress. >> did they steal a shotgun from the cabin?
>> what makes me think they're not together? i have to prepare for both eventualities. we plan and have been investigating since day one for both possibilities, that they either split up or they remain together as a team. obviously they committed the escape as a team. working together as a team has certain plusses. separating also has certain advantages when you're trying to elude capture, but we're working on both. >> is there a shotgun missing from the cabin, major? and also did any of the corrections officers who had access to that cabin that was broken into in the owls head area have any interaction with matt or sweat at the prison? >> i won't comment on the last part about the interaction with the corrections officers. regarding the shotgun, there are reports made that a shotgun is missing. i do not have confirmatory evidence that a shotgun is missing. just about every cabin or outbuilding in the north country
has one or more shotguns or weapons and we have since day one operated under the belief these men are armed. they're extremely dangerous, they're cunning. why wouldn't they try to arm themself after escape. >> wouldn't all the people who have access to that cabin know how many guns they own and be able to tell you whether they have all the guns now? >> logic would dictate that but they put an inordinate amount of weapons and ammunition and other tools in these shared seasonal hunting camps and cabins. you would think that they'd have some sort of an inventory, but our investigation has led us to conclude that in fact a number of people cycle through these camps and cabins and they do not have a definitive number of weapons so they cannot tell us what's missing and what's not. >> major, do you have any reason to believe that the inmates slipped through the perimeter that's set up? anything that leads you to believe that? >> that's entirely possible. perimeter is a very definitive term that i have not used unless i've used air quotes.
by that i mean with this 75-mile square area and us being generous, that's the primary search area they could have made it out before law enforcement could have encircled them. the fact of the matter is we are not limiting our investigation to owls head. we're continuing to look nationwide and we have all the assets at our disposal. u.s. marshals fbi and others to take this thing nationwide and around the world if necessary. >> last question. >> is it becoming more clear or any evidence surfaced that they had help in getting out or are there more characters involved? >> we're continuing to develop on that particular aspect of the investigation daily, sometimes hourly. what we know for sure is na joyce mitchell who's been arrested and charged, assisted them. and our investigators, all investigators are exploring what other further leads or collaborative efforts could have used to aid them in their escape. [ inaudible question ] >> we've already talked with
interpol and the provincial police up there. our customs and border folks are adeptly integrated with them and our federal partners standing behind me are ready for that eventuality. looking to canada and i mean looking in canada and not searching. >> major you said there were no substantiated sites but -- >> and what we just heard from major charles guess of the state police is no confirmation on a hunting rifle being missing from that hunting cabin. said that a bloody -- reports of a bloody sock from one of the prisoners could mean anything. it could mean a blister, it doesn't necessarily mean an injury. and did not confirm the hunting boots or the boots that were left in the cabin that have also been reported. joining me now from santa fe is retired fbi profiler candice delong.
candice, he said a 10-square mile search. talk to me about what the challenge is and whether you feel they are still closing in on the best possible leads. i should say 75-square miles. >> they definitely are closing in on the best possible lead. in fact this is probably the first really substantial lead that's come up in the last 19 days is finding -- finding out exactly where they were and being able to confirm it. the greatest challenge, and i've been in that area is the intense foliage, the coverage. they are not going to be easily spotted, probably can't be easily spotted from the air. so then we're looking at dogs search dogs and human power, finding them. tremendous amount. dogs are probably being brought in from all over the country as well as support law enforcement to help them do this job.
i'm encouraged. >> candice, when we talk about the foliage, this means that drones and other night vision techniques helicopters would not be that helpful, so it really is -- when they say they could be covering 10 miles a day and i should correct myself it's a 75 square mile area that they're looking in what does this tell you about the possibility that they can close off the area with all those hunting cabins empty hunting cabins because the season doesn't begin until the fall and not have a real danger to other civilians in the region? >> well it's a monumental task. 75 square miles, that's a lot of land to cover. there's a lot of cabins up there. it's immense. it's going to take a while. the most helpful thing will be if the bad guys make a mistake. they already have. let's hope they make another one. >> and i wanted to ask you
briefly about the reports that we have confirmed, that joyce mitchell smuggled in the hacksaw and the other tools in raw hamburger meat to the prisoners. we had talked earlier about the security there but there's a lot of evidence now that packages weren't searched that people who were employees were able to go in and out, that they didn't have camera surveillance up on the towers so that the manhole cover wasn't covered. what about the sort of sloppiness here at this prison? >> well it's not looking good for them is it? it's a huge facility tremendous amount of employees. and like any other workplace, andrea sometimes things get lax, they get overlooked. the interaction that goes on between inmates and employees frequently is not as secure as one would think it would be. oftentimes hollywood, tv and
movies present environments that are vastly different than what we're seeing here in clinton. and clinton is not so unlike others. and what i mean by that is inmates can come and go sometimes more freely than we believe they can, and they can interact with employees of the prison more freely than we see it presented in the media. and in any workplace, things can happen. rules are broken regulations are not maintained. >> thank you very much. again, candice delong former fbi profiler, for being with us at that. and now to boston. a judge there sentencing dzhokhar tsarnaev to death for killing four people in 2013 during that horrendous attack on the boston marathon and in the manhunt that followed. survivors and victims' loved ones have been speaking out in court all morning at the
sentencing day. the hearing, addressing the man who two years ago forever changed their lives. the big question is will tsarnaev speak before he is sentenced. ron mott joins me from outside the court house in boston. ron, bring us up to date. >> reporter: it's a beautiful day here in boston a lot of emotion pouring out in that courtroom. there's no real drama with the sentence itself. we all know he's been sentenced to death. the question is whether he's going to speak. after all of their victims finish their statements, we're expecting there will be some procedural things the court will have to handle and the government will have five or six minutes to sum up and wrap up its case for the people of the united states and the judge will offer dzhokhar tsarnaev a chance to speak. a lot of analysts following this case don't see a lot of upside for him to speak. however, his body language suggests that he's not fully engaged with some of the victims
who have presented in front of the court today. he did turn and look at a number of them. i think you've got some sketches. you can tell he's now grown his beard out. he was essentially wearing a goatee throughout most of the trial and his hair is considerably longer. some of these victims are talking about some really deep emotional scars that they have been living with including two people who were running the marathon two years ago. both have suffered hearing losses. both are suffering from ptsd. one of them is a medical doctor who lives down in alabama. he says it has affected his medical practice. he says he can't even use a stethoscope because of his hearing loss. the hearing loss apparently is permanent for him. he says a lot of people look at him and he looks whole from the outside, but there's a lot of pain and suffering that he has, emotional pain and suffering he's going through on a daily basis. so a lot of folks getting up. some not addressing dzhokhar tsarnaev. one witness said to the judge,
sir, this defendant is already dead. andrea. >> ron mott thank you so much from boston. and now we have live pictures from the south carolina state capitol where that horse-drawn caisson has just brought the body of state senator and reverend clementa pinckney to the state house where his remains will lie in repose. as you can see, there's a gathering there outside. another brilliant and very hot day in the state capital. in south carolina. and just moments from now we should point out we'll be hearing from president obama. he's expected to officially announce what the white house is calling a new policy in the way american hostage families can deal with terrorists who are holding their loved ones. the president's comments will be live from the white house coming up next and we'll also have more from south carolina as we see the ceremony -- the ceremonial arrival of the late state senator, reverend clementa pinckney who led the mother emanuel ame church in prayer on
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that's huge for my bottom line. what's in your wallet? the reverend clementa pinckney, the late state senator, beloved reverend and leader of mother emanuel church in south carolina is being honored at this moment. his casket was drawn by horses through the streets of the capital, carried inside the statehouse where it will lie in repose today, this one week after he and eight others were gunned down during bible study. nbc's ron allen joins me now from columbia south carolina the state capital. you can see behind you, ron, as you know that state flag still flying. they decided yesterday they will begin debate but it is not, according to the governor nikki haley, within her power to bring the flag down as the alabama governor did on a moment's
notice today. tell me about the moment just now where the state troopers were carrying that casket inside. >> reporter: well, andrea it was a very solemn moment. we were standing out here on the street and the midday crowd has gathered. there are a lot of people here who have come out of the state capitol, out of the offices and businesses here on the main street to watch this procession go by. there's going to be several hours now of public viewing until 5:00 this evening where people can go in and pass by the body and pay their respects. also i understand a number of senator pinckney's colleagues are lining up to stand near the body as well so as it's been described his body will not be alone while it is in the capitol. yes, you're right, here out front the flag is still flying. you can see behind me there kind of limp in the breeze it's very hot and humid out here today. the governor has said that it's not within her power to remove it it takes an act of the legislature, but there have been some who have been point out a small part of the law, the
heritage law, that governs the flag and other things here that gives her apparently the option to remove the flag so that it can be repaired or so that maintenance can be performed on it. there have been a number of representatives who have been saying that the flag does look like it needs a little bit of repair. but the governor has not exercised that option this morning as of yet. we're still standing by to see if she does. it's such a politically charged and emotional issue that it seems that at this point nothing is going to happen because the moment is now when you would want the flag most removed because the pastor's body is there literally several hundred yards from the flag. but we don't know that you can see it. the rotunda is underneath there. there's a window and it appears to be blocked at this point so visually you cannot see from the rotunda out to the flag. but of course we saw the flag flying as the body went by. andrea. >> thanks so much ron allen. and meanwhile at the white
house, president obama is about to announce what the white house claims is a change in policy permitting the families of americans held hostage by terror groups to pay ransom privately without fear of prosecution. reuters and others are reporting there has been a long-standing presidential exemption preventing such payments. phil balboni worked closely with the family of james foley during his capture prior to his beheading. the president is now coming out. if you can stand by with me fim, we'll listen and talk on the other side. >> since 9/11 more than 80 americans have been taken hostage by murderous groups engauges in terrorism or privacy. for these innocent men and women, tourists journalists, humanitarians, it's a horror. and cruelty beyond description. for their families and for their
friends, it's an unrelenting nightmare that the rest of us cannot even begin to imagine. as a government we should always do everything in our power to bring these americans home safe and to support their families. dedicated public servants across our government work tirelessly to do so. our military personnel risk their lives in dangerous missions, such as the operation i authorized last year that attempted to rescue americans held in syria and yemen. and there have been successes, such as the rescue of captain richard phillips held by somali pirates, and jessica buchanan rescued from somalia. of these more than 80 americans taken hostage since 9/11 more than half have ultimately come home. some after many years. tragically too many others have not. and at this very moment americans continue to be held by
terrorist groups or detained unjustly by foreign governments. for them the nightmare goes on and so does our work day and night, to reunite them with their loved ones. as i've said before the terrorist threat is evolving. the world has been appalled by isil's barbaric murder of innocent hostages including americans. moreover, the families of hostages have told us and they have told me directly that their frequent frustrations in dealing with their own government. how different departments and agencies aren't always coordinated, how there's been confusion and conflicting information about what the government is prepared to do to help how they have often felt lost in the bureaucracy and how in some cases families feel that they have been threatened for exploring certain options to bring their loved ones home. that's totally unacceptable.
as i have gotten to know some of these families and heard some of these stories, it has been my solemn commitment to make sure that they feel fully supported in their efforts to get their families home and that there is a synching up of what i know to be sincere, relentless efforts within government and the families who obviously have one priority and one priority only and that's getting their loved ones back. these families have already suffered enough and they should never feel ignored or victimized by their own government. diane foley, whose son, jim, was killed last year said as americans we can do better. i totally agree. we must do better. and that's why i ordered a comprehensive review of our hostage policy. i want to thank everybody who contributed to this review
inside and outside of government. some of whom are here today. i especially want to thank the former hostages and families who contributed. i've come to know some of these families, often under the most heart-breaking of circumstances. when her son peter, also known as abdul raman was being held in syria, his mother wrote me a letter. in it she described how on clear nights she and her husband would look up at the stars and the moon and wonder if perhaps their son might be able to see them too, a reminder of the bond they might still share. i've called these families to offer our condolences after they have received gut-wrenching news no parent has wanted to hear. i've visited with them i've hugged them i've grieved with them. i just spent time with some of the families as well as some former hostages here at the white house. needless to say it was a very
emotional meeting. some are still grieving. i thank them for sharing their experiences and their ideas with our review team. in fact many of the changes we're announcing today are a direct result of their recommendations. i acknowledged to them in private what i want to say publicly, that it is true that there have been times when our government regardless of good intentions has let them down. i promised them that we can do better. here's how. today i'm formally issuing a new presidential policy directive to improve how we work to bring home american hostages and how we support their families. i've signed a new executive order to ensure our government is organized to do so. and we're releasing the final report of our review which describes the two dozen specific steps that we're taking. broadly speaking, they fall into
three areas. first, i'm updating our hostage policy. i'm making it clear that our top priority is the safe and rapid recovery of american hostages. to do so we will use all elements of our national power. i am reaffirming that the united states government will not make concessions, such as paying ransom, to terrorist groups holding american hostages. i know this can be the subject of significant public debate. it's a difficult and emotional issue, especially for the families. as i said to the families who are gathered here today and as i've said to families in the past, i look at this not just as a president but also as a husband and a father. and if my family were at risk obviously i would move heaven and earth to get those loved ones back. as president, i also have to consider our larger national
security. i firmly believe that the united states government paying ransom to terrorists risks endangering more americans and funding the very terrorism that we're trying to stop and so i firmly believe that our policy ultimately puts fewer americans at risk. at the same time, we are clarifying that our policy does not prevent communication with hostage takers by our government, the families of hostages or third parties who help these families. and when appropriate, our government may assist these families and private efforts in those communications. in part to ensure the safety of the family members and to make sure they're not defrauded. so my message to these families was simple. we're not going to abandon you, we will stand by you. second, we're making changes to ensure that our government is better organized around this mission.
every department that is involved in our national security apparatus cares deeply about these hostages prioritizes them and works really hard. but they're not always as well coordinated as they need to be. under the national security council here at the white house, we're setting up a new hostage response group, comprised of senior officials from across our government who will be responsible for ensuring that our hostage policies are consistent and coordinated and implemented rapidly and effectively. and they will be accountable at the highest levels. they will be accountable to me. soon i'll be designating as well a senior diplomat as my special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who will be focused solely on leading our diplomatic efforts with other countries to bring our people home. at the operational level we're
creating for the first time one central hub where experts from across government will work together side by side as one coordinated team to find american hostages and bring them home safely. this fusion cell at the fbi is already up and running and we're designating a new official in the intelligence community to be responsible for coordinating the collection analysis and rapid dissemination of intelligence related to american hostages so we can act on that intelligence quickly. third, and running through all these efforts, we are fundamentally changing how our government works with families of hostages. many of the families told us that they at times felt like an afterthought or a distraction. that too often the law enforcement or military and intelligence officials they were interacting with were begrudging in giving them information. and that ends today.
i'm making it enclosure that these families are to be treated like what they are, our trusted partners and active partners in the recovery of their loved ones. we are all on the same team and nobody cares more about bringing home these americans than their own families. and we have to treat them as partners. so specifically our new fusion cell will include a person dedicated to coordinating the support families get from the government. this coordinator will ensure that we communicate with families better with one clear voice, and that families get information that is timely and accurate. working with the intelligence community, we will be sharing more intelligence with families. this coordinator will be the family's voice within government making sure when decisions are made about their loved ones their concerns are front and center. everyone who deals with these families on a regular basis will be given additional training to ensure families are treated with the dignity and compassion that
they deserve. in particular i want to point out that no family of an american hostage has ever been prosecuted for paying a ransom for the return of their loved ones. the last thing that we should ever do is to add to a family's pain with threats like that. so the bottom line is this. when it comes to how our government works to recover americans held hostage and how we work with their families we are changing how we do business. after everything they have endured, these families are right to be skeptical and that's why it's so important, as i told them today, that we will be setting up mechanisms to ensure accountability and implementation. i directed my national security team to report back to me including getting feedback from the families to make sure that these reforms are being put in place and that they are working. in the course of our review
several families told us they wanted to spare other families the frustrations they endured. some have even recrated new organizations to support families like theirs such as the moral obligation of steven sotloff. everyone has two lives, the second one begins when you realize you only have one. as a government and as a nation we can learn from the example and the strength of their lives, the kind of strength we've seen in all these held hostages including kayla mueller. kayla devoted her life to serving those in need around the world, to refugees in syria who had lost everything. she was a source of comfort and hope. before her tragic death she was held by isil in syria for a year and a half. during her captivity, kayla managed to smuggle a letter to her family. she said none of us could have
known it would be this long but i know i'm also fighting for my side in the ways that i am able and i have a lot of fight left in me. i'm not breaking down and i will not give in no matter how long it takes. today my message to anyone who harms americans is that we do not forget. our reach is long. justice will be done. my message over toy american being held unjustly around the world who is fighting from the inside to survive another day, my message to their families who long to hold them once more is that the united states of america will never stop working to reunite you with your family. we will not give up no matter how long it takes. thank you very much, everybody. and as the president leaves the roosevelt room after announcing the new policy phil balboni is back with us. phil, as the president was coming in and announcing this i
was thinking of what you went through for a year at least trying to find james foley for his family. he had worked as a free lancer for global post. does this fix the problem or does it not go far enough as far as you're concerned? >> well thank you, andrea. i must say i was very impressed with what the president had to say. i think it's very comprehensive. i think he was eloquent and very sincere in expressing his regret about what happened in 2014. as i think back over those 20 months of searching for jim and when we finally found him and negotiating with the kidnappers for his return and how little the government told us almost nothing during that period of time. us or john and diane foley. much of what the president has laid out today would correct many of the problems and
difficulties that we face. i would say this one area and it's the most controversial that is left unaddressed, and that is the question of how these enormous sums are paid by families. in the case of jim, the demand was 100 million euros. we didn't believe that was serious amount of money. as you know the european hostages, the 15 of them were ransomed for somewhere between $3 and $5 million each. but that's a great deal of money for any -- any person to raise. and while i respect the president's continued commitment that the united states government should not directly pay a ransom it leaves the only realistic vehicle, which is to negotiate for the release by the
payment of some compensation it leaves that burden squarely on the family. and that is a problem that, god forbid if we ever get into that situation will remain. but overall i thought the president's announcement today was very impressive and very comprehensive. >> you received an encrypted e-mail or you and the family received encrypted emails back in 2013 from the captors. how do you go about that were you trying to get other individuals to put up the money? >> the e-mails came in clear, they were not encrypted. our e-mails back to them also were not encrypted. they made it clear that they would be likely to detect any tampering with the e-mails. the reason we know -- we knew
that they were holding jim is because of the proof of life questions, which they allowed us to ask, and which were all answered correctly. we knew that it was only possible that jim himself could have answered those questions. >> phil balboni, thank you so much. to be continued, this is just the beginning of the conversation, which is now out in the public sector. thank you. joining me now is maryland senator ben carden who's introduced a bipartisan bill calling for a coordinator to the interagency fusion cell created in the fbi by the white house. you of course worked so hard on the foreign service officer weinstein from maryland one of your constituents who was killed in pakistan. let's talk about what the president announced. does it go far enough as far as having a single one-stop
shopping that these families can rely upon? >> andrea first of all, i think the president's message is going to be very well received by the families, very well received by all americans, that our country is going to do everything we can to bring americans home safely that we will have a coordinated effort, that there will be a much closer working relationship with the families involved. so i thought his message was the right message. i think the reforms that he was suggesting and coordinations with the different agencies is needed so i support all that. i would go one step further and the legislation i filed goes one step further and that is i think there should be a single point person in the executive branch that coordinates the efforts and the family has access to that individual so they can get the best information. and that was one of the criticisms that we received from the families when we've had this episode in maryland. so i would just compliment the
president. i think what he's doing is extremely important. i think the message is right on target, but i would hope that we would have a single point person that would be responsible to coordinate the efforts and to deal with the families. >> and i want to also ask you about a new overnight development, which is allegations from france the president and others speaking out very strongly calling the american ambassador, jane hartley, in to complain that they have evidence from wikileaks that the united states has been spying eavesdropping on three successive french presidents, including president hollande. we're told by the white house that president obama has now called president hollande today to explain they are not spying. i don't know whether you and others in the foreign relations committee want to delve into this. >> i have no information on this. i will say, though we need to take up cyber security and cyber
protocol in the congress of the united states. i am hopeful that's going to be the next major issue on the floor of the united states senate. we have just gone through a briefing on the breach of our cyber information in the federal workforce by opm. we are extremely engaged not just on protecting americans from the invasion of cyber attacks but developing international protocols as to what is permissible and what is not. clearly working with our allies such as france we have to have a confident relationship. as i said i have no specific information on those issues. >> senator, there are reports that as many as 18 million americans, current former and unhired federal employees may have been compromised because they filled out that security form. >> this is extremely troubling to me and to all the members of the congress. we will not tolerate that type of vulnerability for our federal
workforce for americans. this one went over a long period of time. we are still trying to understand people are still being notified whose information has been compromised. this has really put our nation at risk and put a lot of individuals at risk. it cannot be tolerated. >> senator ben cardin of maryland, thank you very much. >> thank you. and joining me now is nbc senior white house correspondent chris jansing, who was in the roosevelt room for that announcement. there's a lot on their plate. chris, i think just yesterday josh earnest said that he was one of those that was notified that his security -- his social security numbers and all the rest were compromised. he's among the millions. >> reporter: i'm sorry, andrea, i missed the top of that. there was a siren going by. >> we know about the north lawn. just yesterday on the subject of the cyber hacking, josh earnest said to you all in the briefing room that he was among those that was notified that he was one of those whose identities was compromised.
>> reporter: that's right. and we have heard before from members here obviously across the administration that that was the case. always sort of adding to that when he makes that statement that nothing was compromised that was of a national security nature, nothing of a classified nature, but i think it obviously does point, andrea to the ongoing concern here about basically the vulnerabilities that exist and continue to be a threat here and the source of a lot of concern. >> and we'll continue to follow your reporting all day, of course, on the hostage policy change and other developments at the white house today. thanks so much for hustling out there, chris jansing, at the white house. and coming up another republican jumping into the race today. will number 13 be a lucky charm?
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political front. bobby jindal makes it 13. the governor of louisiana previewed his big announcement this afternoon by posting a link to his presidential campaign website and tweeting just moments ago, i am running for president of the united states of america. "the washington post" ann geran joins me now. now there are 13 up against hillary clinton and of course martin o'malley and bernie sanders on the other side but hillary clinton with a dominating the field. so bobby jindal where does he carve out some space? >> bobby jindal is really interesting. he is very very conservative. he has sort of impeccable conservative decree den shal credentials. there are about 20 now who are either in or likely to get in or around the periphery. that's a lot to keep track of. but he -- you know obviously because of his own personal story because of who he is
occupies a different space in the republican field this time. there's no one else who looks like him, there's no one else who's going to have the same kind of immigrant -- second generation immigrant story that he has. >> anne gearan on top of all things. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> and that does it for this very busy edition of "andrea mitchell reports." thanks for being with us. on the show tomorrow the secretary of energy. and remember to follow us online on facebook and twitter @mitchell reports. thomas roberts is up next. that little blue thingy. you see it? that's a sensor. using ge software, the light can react to its environment- getting brighter only when it's needed. in a night it saves a little energy. but, in a year it saves a lot. and the other street? it's been burning energy all night. for frank. frank's a cat. now, two things that are exactly the same have never been more different. ge software. get connected. get insights. get
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tsarnaev and condemned him to death but today victims and their families get their chance to have their say directly to the man responsible for killing three people and injuring more than 250 others. there are no cameras in the courtroom, but our producer inside has been providing us with minute-by-minute updates. one victim called tsarnaev a coward and a liar. the other described the last two years as hell waking up screaming from nightmares. and the final witness, re deckbecca gregory ended with this. quote, we are boston strong and america strong. choosing to mess with us is a bad idea. how is that for your victim impact statement. tsarnaev has a chance to speak and that hasn't happened yet but we'll have the details as soon as it does. we'll have a live report in just a few minutes. just moments ago president obama announced some major changes to how the u.s. handles american hostages held abroad. the president ordered the review late last year